Conomor, Prince of Poher
(Born c.AD 460)
(Welsh: Cynfor; Latin: Cunomorus; English: Cunomor)

Conomor ruled in Brittany, as Prince of Poher in Eastern Cornouaille. He is mentioned by Gregory of Tours in his "History of the Franks", as well as in the Lives of Saints Samson & Pol de Léon. However, the latter would appear to have been incorrect in identifying him with King Marc of Kernow (Cornwall). The stories say that, being an ambitious man, Conomor dreamt of uniting the whole of Brittany which was then a disjointed group of petty principalities. To this end, Conomor invaded and conquered many of his neighbours' lands. He took the Kingdom of Domnonée by more nefarious means though. He supposedly murdered its king, Jonas, and married his widow. He was kind and generous to both her and her son, Judwal, until one day Conomor's new wife dreamt that all the kings in Brittany paid homage to her son while he sat upon a mountain. The King was highly disturbed by this supremacy dream and plotted to kill them both. However, they escaped to St. Lunaire's monastery and the holy man sent them to King Childebert in Paris.

Later, King Conomor set his sights on St. Triphine the daughter of King Waroc of Broërec. The prospective father-in-law was not keen on the idea, but was persuaded to let St. Gildas negotiate. Afraid of what Conomor might do if his proposals were rejected, Gildas advised that the wedding go ahead. He would personally guarantee Triphine's safety, and gave her a holy silver ring to seal his promise.

At first the couple were happy together, but Conomor changed when he discovered that Trephine was pregnant. He had once been warned that he would be killed by his own son. Fearing the worst, he again plotted his own wife's murder. Triphine, meantime, had noticed her ring had turned jet black and knew that her life was in danger. So, during the night, she crept down to the Royal crypt. She had heard gossip that it contained a secret passage out of the castle. But here she was greeted by six stone coffins, one empty and five full. To the Queen's horror, the ghosts of the dead immediately rose and revealed themselves to be Conomor's previous wives! He had murdered each in turn, by poison, strangulation, fire, battery and drawing (as in hung, drawn & quartered). They gave Triphine the instruments of their destruction to help in her escape and she fled to the forest. Here she saw her father's hawk hunting overhead and called to it to take her ring home and summon help. Unfortunately, it was not long before Conomor caught up with his wife. He found her hiding in a bramble bush, and coldly cut off her head.

Weroc, meanwhile, had received his daughter's ring and understood. He called for St. Gildas to fulfill his promise. Gildas travelled to Conomor's court where the hawk guided him to Triphine's decapitated body. He could not believe the site that greeted his eyes, but calmed himself and prayed for his ward. Miraculously, her body began to move: it sat up, picked up her head and replaced it to its rightful position. Thus cured, Triphine returned to Broërec, where she gave birth to a son, Tremeur. The people rose against Conomor, Prince Judwal was restored to Domnonée and Conomor was outlawed from most of his lands. He returned to Britain, and Kernow (Cornwall).

Years later, on a trip to Poher, he was riding through the same forest where he had murdered Triphine, when he came across some young lads playing. Asking one his name, he replied, "Tremeur, Sir". Certain this was his own son, Conomor instantly drew his sword, decapitated the poor boy and rode off back to his castle. The little martyr, however, picked up his head and carried it after his father. On reaching the castle, the walls crumbled and fell, crushing Conomor to death.

Records of Conomor date back to the 6th century. He is generally considered historic.


    © Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.